AMES, Iowa -- As Dubuque, Jackson and Delaware counties come together in Iowa State University Extension’s Region 11, “I see happening over time, without being forced, the blurring of county lines,” according to director Bruce Bearinger.
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Bearinger is one of 20 regional extension education directors. The positions were created a year ago as part of ISU Extension’s restructuring plan to facilitate an issue-based approach to delivering ISU Extension programming and resources. Bearinger works directly with county extension council members to meet their legal obligations as an elected body. Together they are identifying new ways to work across county borders, provide educational programming that addresses significant issues and evaluate the results of multi-county and regional efforts.
One of the things Region 11 is planning to do is bring together small groups of extension council members from each of the counties to focus on specific issues.
“We’re always pursuing new ideas and new avenues,” Bearinger said. “I think the issues surrounding sustainability and the issues surrounding local foods are going to be the big strengths of Region 11 in the future.”
These issues will attract the most people and dollars from multi-region and multi-state consortia, he added.
Extension programs remain strong within each county as well, Bearinger continued. The Manchester area in Delaware County has developed four new 4-H clubs focusing on knitting, quilting, pets and shooting sports. Jackson County is seeing growth in 4-H community clubs.
Dubuque County has started a local foods group, working with the Leopold Foundation and other local foods groups and reaching across state lines into Wisconsin and Illinois. This fall the county will be piloting a Master Urban Conservationist program, focusing on the conservation issues of an urban setting.
To learn more about ISU Extension programs, contact Bearinger at 563-583-6496 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the ISU Extension website, www.extension.iastate.edu.